How to Guides

Parking Light Bulb

Zaki Moulvi posted this on Jun 16, 2014

The light bulbs used in automotive applications go through extreme changes in temperature, are subject to massive vibrations and can suffer from corrosion due to exposure to the elements.  Yet, they are durable enough to ensure that your vehicle is always visible to other drivers.

What are Parking Lights?

The exterior of your vehicle consists of a wide array of lights, each designed and placed for a different purpose.  At first, parking lights were used as a way for a parked car to be seen alongside the road.  Their operation was completely separate from the cars headlights.  The need for these lights diminished as roadways became wider and since 1968 they have been wired concurrently with the headlights of a car.  This allows the car to be more visible from the side, a necessity when driving in the dark on a multi-lane highway.

Different Types of Parking Lights

To distinguish them from the red brake lights and opaque headlights, U.S. car manufacturers use either orange or gold for parking lights.  Other countries will typically use clear, bright lights for this function.  This is a standard created by the 1968 United Nations Convention on Road Traffic that states lamps facing sideways on vehicles, plus turn signal lights must emit an amber glow both in the United States and Canada.

The Parking Light Bulb

When first introduced, the parking lights were dependent on the incandescent light bulb to function.  These were not durable and required frequent replacement.  Harsh weather and wind would cause them to stop working.  Cadillac was the first producer of better weather resistant lighting options for automobiles.  Today, you have a choice of the type of bulb you use for your parking lights.

Different Types of Automotive Light Bulbs

  • Halogen:  First introduced in 1962, the halogen light bulb uses the same technology as incandescent lighting, except they install a metal back drop to direct the light in a specific direction.  This creates a more efficient lighting system.   This type of bulb is still being used by many auto manufacturers.
  • HID:  Also known as xenon lighting, high intensity discharge lighting is more advantageous than incandescent lighting.  It is much brighter and will last longer.  BMW was the first to incorporate this type of bulb into their line in 1991.

LED: This has become a major selling point for new vehicles, especially in the luxury class.  Light emitting diodes are extremely long lasting and luminous. 

Choosing the Right Bulb For Your Parking Light

To start with, you should check the owner’s manual for the exact size and wattage required by your car.  Parking light bulbs come in an array of styles and sizes and you will need to pick the right one for your car.  Some upgrades to Xenon or LED light bulbs may be available for your vehicle, but it is recommended that if you are going to upgrade the parking light bulb to a brighter one, that you do so for all of the parking lights on your vehicle.

Check the quality of the light bulbs, especially the life span.  You want a parking light bulb that is not going to need to be changed often.   

How to Change the Parking Light Bulb

Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to access the parking light bulb by removing its plastic shield.  Otherwise there will be an access inside of the engine close to the headlight assembly.  Check your owner’s manual for the specifics of your car.  Once you do have access to the light bulb, carefully pull it out of the assembly and check the wiring for any damage.  So long as everything looks okay, you can install the new bulb. 

Choosing the Right Bulb For Your Parking Light

To start with, you should check the owner’s manual for the exact size and wattage required by your car.  Parking light bulbs come in an array of styles and sizes and you will need to pick the right one for your car.  Some upgrades to Xenon or LED light bulbs may be available for your vehicle, but it is recommended that if you are going to upgrade the parking light bulb to a brighter one, that you do so for all of the parking lights on your vehicle.

Check the quality of the light bulbs, especially the life span.  You want a parking light bulb that is not going to need to be changed often.   

How to Change the Parking Light Bulb

Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to access the parking light bulb by removing its plastic shield.  Otherwise there will be an access inside of the engine close to the headlight assembly.  Check your owner’s manual for the specifics of your car.  Once you do have access to the light bulb, carefully pull it out of the assembly and check the wiring for any damage.  So long as everything looks okay, you can install the new bulb. 

Categories: Autowiki Car Systems